Anonymous said: The local constabulary is getting suspicious of the young warriors spotted going up to my manor and never returning. For the last group, I made them kill each other and convinced the authorities it was a suicide pact. I used to rely on the passing of the constable and poor paperwork to get by, but these days computer systems are making the pattern too obvious. I only moved into this manor 400 years ago and I don't want to vacate, what should I do?
Ah, gone are the days when a four-century stay in a hilltop manor were something a liche could expect to get away with. Now, four centuries is considered an almost suspiciously long stretch! Still, there are (non-magical) avenues available to you that can help ameliorate the issues brought on by accurate paperwork and digital records.
Have you considered the many opportunities offered by a career in law enforcement?
Fig. 1: Above, a totally ordinary police constable on the beat. One would never suspect that he is also… a necromancer.
That’s right! Thanks to the average human’s inability to distinguish between faces in uniform, a powerful liche such as yourself can easily rise through the ranks of the local constabulary and divert any unwanted attention away from your dread fortress. From now on, the only prying eyes trying to get a look at your business will belong to the scrying orbs of rival sorcerers desperate to steal from your black library.
Moreover, necromancers are already adept at taking advantage of the internal power structure of any unholy cabal; once you’re on the force, you should quickly ascend to the top of their hierarchy, giving you all the access you need to slowly erase any and all records that might lead nosy, human police to investigate your stronghold. If you’re feeling particularly enterprising, you could also just install some ghouls on the force, after all, they’d help cut down on crime.
There is no better deterrent than the constant threat of being seized by a team of feral subhumans. By the time you’re done, they’ll be afraid to go out at night at all.
Fig. 2: The disguise is impenetrable. The uniforms acts as a mundane equivalent of the usual glamour. They keep giving him distinguished service medals. He’s a goddamned hero.
Anonymous said: After centuries of devoted study in the necromantic arts I now fear that the very specialisation I once strove towards has left me insufficiently equipped to deal with the many rigours of the modern magical world. I think the best way to increase my arcane flexibility would be to invest some of my dread energies in a secondary school. But there's so many to pick from! Is there any specific magical school which would mesh well with my pre-existing skill in the dark and forbidden arts?
In cases like this, I always find it useful to consider the counterpoint. You feel as though the modern magical world is leaving you behind, but have you considered that this may be a good thing? As a liche, what have you really gained from modern magic? Be honest, when was the last time you used a spell that was less than five hundred years old?
Fig 1: Above left, a pathetic illusionist, holding a worthless illusory orb. You could always throw it at someone, but it is, of course, weightless.
If there’s one thing that necromancy has, it’s staying power. Interrogating the spirits of the dead has been a noble tradition for as long as things have been dying, now is not the time to cross-skill into a lesser art of the arcane. Consider any of the more recent additions to the tree of mysteries… do you think we’re still going to be seeing illusionists in two centuries’ time?1 Do you remember around the 18th century, when everyone wanted to be an enchanter? Whatever happened to all those mentalists and mesmerists?
None of this is to say that you shouldn’t diversify. It’s great that you’re interested in fitting in with the ephemeral world around you, but remember that there’s a very good reason the necromancer has a reputation for retiring to a crypt for centuries at a time, communicating with the outside world only by means of undead messengers and human thralls.
Still, if you’re determined to “keep up” with the world around you, you may do better to take an interest in more mundane arts. Thanks to their familiarity with darkened, dank environments and eyes used to the eldritch flares of other planes, a liche can often find a healthy sideline in DJing. Your hideous, undead appearance will also help you to establish yourself in the local rave scene.
The newer branches of magic though? Fads, rubbish, they’ll never catch on. Magic is ephemeral, rave is forever.
1. As with so many things, the greatest strength an illusionist has is the ability to simulate a horde of the undead, giving the impression that he is a powerful necromancer and not a totally worthless illusionist.
glempy said: Everyone knows that liches live for ever. But if that's the case, why aren't there undead wizards and mummified magicians everywhere? Did we reach "peak liche" somewhere in the far distant past and are now suffering from the natural whittling of numbers at the hands of adventurers or hubris? Or are we still in the early days of necromantic proliferation?
This is an excellent question! While you’re technically correct in that liches can live forever, what you need to keep in mind is that many liches have minds too addled by their own spellcraft to keep a low profile. There is solid foundation to the stereotype of a liche too intent on his own babbling to notice that a hero has slipped his bonds and is approaching the black altar.
The truth is that we hit peak liche sometime in the middle ages, not long after the Black Death swept across Europe. As every dark sorcerer knows, plagues are a boon to practitioners of the necromantic arts. Unfortunately, a particularly virulent strain can also threaten the living necromancer.1 As a result of the unusually high volume of deaths, the boundary between our world and the shadowlands of the afterlife was weakened. The combination of mortal danger and easy ascension to lichedom ensured that many necromancers who would otherwise failed were able to bind their souls to this plane.
Moreover, after the plague there was a glut of bodies to work with, and far fewer people left to spot the tentative liche at his delicate work. Consider also the relatively high number of villages and isolated hilltop houses (or towers) from which a necromancer could work while still having access to fresh bodies.
Now, of course, the average liche is under more immediate threat from things as mundane as bureaucracy. The world has become so thoroughly documented that these days it’s quite difficult for a liche to do something as seemingly simple as fake his own death every seventy years and reappear a few months later as a “lost son” to claim the family estate. Too many death lords have failed to modernise and so been sent to a premature final death.
Less powerful or careful liches are apprehended every day. The close proximity of modern living has made it more likely for mortals to sense the dread aura of the dedicated sorcerer. As ever, the issue is compounded by profession’s characteristic hubris. Just the other day, I saw a necromancer apprehended because of a careless tweet…2
It is possible that the number of liches continues to grow, but so secretly that even the liches themselves aren’t aware of it, but it’s unlikely.
You just need to keep in mind that you can dramatically extend you lifespan with a good liche plan.
1. Despite being a master of the arcane, the average necromancer is still subject to the frailties of living flesh.
2. Most liches are saved from the worst hazards of the smartphone age by the fact that our skinless fingers cannot operate a touchscreen. Ironically, it is only those powerful enough to becapable of maintaining flesh that suffer this way. Our most talented are robbed from us.
thesaxdude said: Hello i am wondering if anyone could show me how to start necromancy and if someone is not too judgmental of um things lets say message me at tumblr if possible or facebook at Charlie White. (pingu profile pic)
For every necromancer, there comes a day that he must accept that even lichedom has its limitations. Much as I expect to live forever, there are still ways and means by which I may be dispatched and banished from this plane. It is in consideration of these possibilities that most necromancers will choose a promising mortal and teach them the forbidden lores of our craft.
Few mortals are brave or audacious enough to contact a liche directly. Many are deterred by the plague miasma or the necrotic aura. Still others venture forth only to have the life crushed from them by the array of wards and traps set in place by the tomb kings. Few have the ingenuity to avoid these things through the careful use of the face book.1
As the secret knowledge passes from one generation to the next, I ask only that the rest of you, able necromancers all, welcome my new apprentice, Charlie. I have no doubt that he will work fell magics beyond even my wildest ambitions.
1. Now, as ever, the LibreFaces is most often employed to disguise the true appearance of the amateur sorcerer, that they might elicit the help of more powerful warlocks without incurring their wrath.
Anonymous said: As an ageless and eternal lich I am perhaps more invested in the future of this planet than most. After all, where am I going to get thralls and fodder from if the earth can no longer support life? So I think it's in my own best interests to reduce the carbon footprint of my necromancy and make myself more environmentally sustainable. The question is, how do I go about doing this?
It’s good to see liches taking an interest in the environment; too many modern necromancers take the attitude that there’s plenty of dead material to last us almost indefinitely even if all life on earth dies out. The reality of the situation is that, in a dark future in which all life has been extinguished, the Earth will doubtless be plagued by the undead legions of powerful necromancers as they vie for ultimate dominion over a planet of the dead.
The supply is not inexhaustible.
Of course, the connection between necromancy and the environment has been thoroughly explored by more capable necromancers than myself. Famed dark wizard and head of the college of necromancy, Albus Dumblegore has often pointed out that necromancy has a net-positive effect on the environment.
This is the basis of his bestselling grimoire (and box office smash hit) A Convenient Truth; by raising the bodies of the dead and preserving them through painstaking reanimation, you prevent all of that nasty carbon from seeping back out into the environment. Think of all the nasty greenhouse gases trapped in the average horde of zombies! The very act of necromancy itself acts to preserve the environment in its current state, teeming with life that you will later have the opportunity to raise from the dead, continuing the all-important cycle.
More than that, there are subtle clues hidden in Dumblegore’s work, indicating that you might use the very agents of climate change in your necromancy. Bend the smog to your will, use it in your most powerful spellcrafting, gaze into the vortex and draw from it the powers you require.
Fig. 1: Pictured above, the pollution vortex from which Albus Dumblegore draws his necromantic energy, maintaining the fragile balance between life and death for an entire planet.
Your necromancy is already more than environmentally sustainable, you’re actively encouraging a better earth for us all. Keep up the good work.
That said, should the planet die, there’s no need to worry… I happen to know just the right cabal of black sorcerers to bring it back.
Anonymous said: Yesterday I had to slay another band of adventurers bent on destroying my phylactery. A fellow lich told me he used a piece of radioactive waste and now it's buried deeply and securely for the next 10,000 years in a mineshaft and no one would dare approach it. Is it a good idea to irradiate such a precious thing?
Ah, but you’d miss those wretched adventurers. I mean, the faces are different every time, but they’ve always got a paladin or some such who thinks they’ve got faith enough to turn the undead away from them. The truth will always be the same… necromancy wins out in the end.
Liches play the long game, the quiet one of sure investment. We wait for the slow accretion of years to weaken our enemies, to rob them of their vigour, until eventually we can animate the corpses of those who once stood against us. Safe for ten thousand years? What is ten thousand years to the ageless, to the deathless? A good liche needs to be utterly exempt the the inevitable march of time.
Fig. 1: Pictured above, a Lich using a tweezers to inspect the remaining portion of a decaying phylactery (not visible in photograph).
Consider this, your peer has used a substance that is slowly undergoing radioactive decay. Because such a substance is slowly haemorrhaging precious subatomic particles, his phylactery is gradually undergoing a transformation at the atomic level. With every passing year, a greater proportion of the vessel for his damned soul is decaying, becoming something else entirely. What effect will this have on its ability to house his spirit?1
Having people try endlessly to destroy you is one of the greatest pleasures undeath has, don’t sacrifice it in the name of “security.”
Treasure the treasure hunters.
1. We know, after all, that alchemists can destroy a necromancer’s phylactery by transmutation of its component elements. All your friend has managed to achieve is to begin the slow process that will inevitably weaken the enchantments that bind him to this plane. By all means, interrogate the subtle connections between dark sorceries and particle physics, but your own phylactery hardly seems the right place to experiment…
Anonymous said: I'm a wizard who is worried about aging. I realize I'm no longer as young and attractive as I once was--my flesh isn't as youthfully firm, my eyes aren't as bright, and I'm starting to feel invisible in the presence of younger magi. (Yes, I've checked my invisibility spells.) I don't want to become a liche myself owing to political and skincare concerns, but are there any necromantic spells you can recommend to halt the aging process? I am not averse to availing myself of others' life energy.
Well, let’s focus on the positive for now, you’re already a wizard of some ability, you’re familiar with the arcane. If we’re honest with one another, you’re already using some magic to keep your spine straight, stop your teeth from decaying, and so forth (don’t be ashamed, we all do it). I know of far too many tarnished-skulled liches who’ve neglected some magical preservatives at a key time.
What you need isn’t for someone to answer the questions you’ve posed. That’s not even what you really want. When you say you don’t want to become a liche, it tells me that what you need isn’t aid in the application of necromantic magic… No, you’re after a dedicated (un)life-coach. You need someone to give you that final push into the life-after-death that you deserve. You’ve worked long and hard at the magic, time to reap the real rewards
The NecromAnswers Unlife Coach program has the advice you need to deal with wizards who aren’t giving you the respect you deserve.
Where you’ll really benefit from the transition to lichedom is that you’ll find any issues around your looks will suddenly melt away.1 With your newly acquired dread aura and plague miasma, other wizards you associate with will never be able to make you feel invisible again. Indeed, they’ll likely have a very difficult time ignoring you; your very presence will be an affront to their thaumaturgically-attuned senses. Their minds will not allow them to look upon you without a sense of revulsion. You’ll never be invisible again!
If you buy a full decade of unlife coaching, we’ll throw in a tasteful choice of five popular phylacteries absolutely free. Consider all that could be yours. Below is an artist’s impression of how happy you could be if you were to spend just one century with our talented team of unlife coaches.
Fig 1. Above, you, only happier, and better looking… eternally.
1. Of course, your skin and flesh will also melt away, but it’ll take a while longer.
Anonymous said: I would love to ascend to full lich status, but I do most of my magic with incantations. Will I still be able to use incantations without lips or a tongue?
As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s not enough to be able to simply cast spells. Many an ambitious necromancer has been consumed by the errant powers of a dweomer or curse beyond his control after flubbing a syllable of an otherwise perfectly simple chant. Things only get more difficult when you’re bargaining with creatures of the hellplane in their guttural nethertongue.1
As a result of this necessary talent with the fast-spoken utterances of the crypt, many necromancers (and even liches) enjoy healthy careers as rappers in their downtime. After all, Tupac has continued to hold concerts long after his death. Of course his agent claims it’s a series of complex holograms, but the telltale blue-white sheen of the shade is about him. His essence has yet to depart this plane.
Still, not all liches can be as talented as Tupac; we’re not all going to be shackling our ethereal spirit forms to the earth forever. You’ll have to settle for some more mundane advice. It’s not enough that you learn your incantations, you’ve got to be able to spit necromantic spells such swiftness and confidence that you don’t even need flesh and blood to do it. The most common ways of doing this are by either:
- Using flesh transplanted from zombies/ghouls and planted in your own mouth, reanimated and under the control of your necromantic power.
- The implementation of a “ghost voice,” the use of magics that allow the lich to shape sounds using force of will alone. This is trickier and requires more conversation.
As you might guess, there are still cantrips that can only be cast with the aid of a (wretched) living mouth. It is for this purpose that many liches employ a thrall to act as a conduit for their dark magics. We would suggest you cultivate such an agent while you have the power of speech, the better to bind him to your will.
1. Did you know that, to the untrained ear, the abyssal word for “soul” that is functionally indistinguishable from the abyssal word for “heap of anonymous viscera?” Apparently, it’s a tonal language.
Anonymous said: Ive been a lich for many years now and a necromancer for longer than that. Nowadays I can barely leave my house without the neighbours getting aggressive. Almost all of my face has rotten away and the meat that's still there hurts when I get sunshine or fresh air in it. Can you recommend a skin care regimen for an old necromancer?
Don’t be too surprised. You are, after all, mostly dead. The subtle magicks that animate your husk cannot preserve your appearance. Consider the waste if every necromancer were to spend their power on dweomers and glamours, o enchant those they meet. There’s already little enough arcane power to go round, best not waste it on frivolous spellcasting.
Don’t worry, though. There are mundane means by which your flesh may be preserved. Skin may be tanned into a fine leather, to be worn over the necromancer’s exposed skull as a kind of fashionable cowl. Thanks to my extensive experience in the field, I was fortunate enough to be asked to assist on both of the last presidential campaigns.1
Fig. 1: Long live the Obamamancer.
The biggest issue you’ll encounter is that there is no standard range of beauty products made for the liche concerned about the long term effects of undeath on the once-mortal visage. You’ll need bespoke tailoring for your new skin, an experienced and patient hand.
Ideally, you’ll need to consult someone with extensive experience in the field. Someone with the right skills and qualifications, as well as access to a number of thaumaturgic compounds and crèmes, can help you to blend in with the rest of the human cattle for another few decades, if not centuries.
If you’re looking for such a craftsman, look no further… I am a well-respected taxidermatologist.
1. This is an important task; voters would respond poorly to the realisation that both parties have put forward necromancers as presidential candidates, though every president in the last hundred years has, of course, been at least a warlock.
Anonymous said: Hello I was wondering is there some kind of necromancer's meetings where you can make new necromancer friends?
There are no meeting for necromancers. As a rule, they fear that sort of organisation. For some things, you’ll find that the mortal solution is surprisingly effective once you know where to look. The Yelp reviews of local graveyards and mortuaries should provide just about everything you need to start meeting necromancers in your area.
Naturally, you’ll find the biggest complaint most accomplished necromancers have with any burial ground is that it’s already inhabited by too many lower-ranking undead:
Above: A review of a local graveyard written by a popular local necromancer.
Of course, this introduces the issue of undead gentrification. Portal tombs and dolmens acquire a kind of cultural caché out of all proportion with their use. I mean, think about it, you might be at the most fashionable place in town, but if you’re spending all your time at the Ossuary, all you’re raising is skellingtons. They’re pretty cool and all, but nobody wants to be stuck with them all the time.
Anyway, the lesser orders of undead congregate around those places as soon as it’s known that they’re in vogue. Before you know it, there are vampires there, bleating about being the aristocracy of the night, and splashing their wine glasses full of blood all over your nice robes. Nothing gets those blood stains out.
Above: Some sample reviews of other local burial grounds by more necromancers.
If you’d rather meet necromancers in your area through the comfort of your own home, there’s always NecrOKcupid, as described in a previous post. Alternatively, there’s still plenty of time for you to join MySpace. The MySpace necromantic community has been seeing a huge upswing in the last few months. Now, I know what you’re thinking, MySpace has been dead for years…